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Chemistry LibreTexts

20: Molecular Spectroscopy and Photochemistry

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  • Spectroscopy is the use of the absorption, emission, or scattering of electromagnetic radiation by atoms or molecules (or atomic or molecular ions) to qualitatively or quantitatively study the atoms or molecules, or to study physical processes. The interaction of radiation with matter can cause redirection of the radiation and/or transitions between the energy levels of the atoms or molecules. A transition from a lower level to a higher level with transfer of energy from the radiation field to the atom or molecule is called absorption. A transition from a higher level to a lower level is called emission if energy is transferred to the radiation field, or nonradiative decay if no radiation is emitted. Redirection of light due to its interaction with matter is called scattering, and may or may not occur with transfer of energy, i.e., the scattered radiation has a slightly different or the same wavelength.

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